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Story/Teller Arts: James Ijames on Fat Ham with Jonathan McCrory

October 31, 2023

On the heels of Fat Ham’s critically acclaimed Broadway run, James Ijames joined The Center for Fiction for a rich conversation on his inventive, poignant, and hilarious play. In Fat Ham, Juicy—a young, queer, Southern man grappling with questions of identity—is visited by the ghost of his father at his mother’s wedding/family barbecue, and ordered to avenge his murder. Winner of the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Fat Ham is an “outstanding transformation of Shakespeare’s tragedy into a play about Black masculinity and queerness” that “echoes Hamlet and finds a language beyond it” (New York Times). Jonathan McCrory, Tony Award- and New York Emmy Award-nominated producer and two-time Obie Award-winning artist, joined Ijames in conversation.

Presented in Partnership with the Theatre Communications Group.


  • Ijames, James - Eliana Cohen-Orth

    James Ijames

    James Ijames

    James Ijames is a playwright, director, actor, and educator. Ijames was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Fat Ham. His other awards include a Pew Fellowship, the F. Otto Haas Award for Emerging Artist, the Terrence McNally New Play Award, a Whiting Award, a Kesselring Prize, and a Steinberg Prize. His other plays include The Most Spectacularly Lamentable Trial of Miz Martha Washington and White. He resides in South Philadelphia.

    Photo Credit: Lowell Thomas

  • Jonathan McCrory Headshot_02

    Jonathan McCrory

    Jonathan McCrory

    Jonathan McCrory is a Tony Award- and New York Emmy Award-nominated producer, two-time Obie Award-winning, Harlem-based artist who has served as Executive Artistic Director at National Black Theatre since 2012 under the leadership of CEO Sade Lythcott. He has directed numerous professional productions and concerts which include: How the Light Gets In (NYMF), The Ballad of Klook and Vinette and Iron John (NAMT), Dead and Breathing, Hands Up, Hope Speaks, Blacken The Bubble, Asking for More, Last Laugh, and Enter Your Sleep. He has worked at ETW at Tisch NYU with Emergence: A Communion and Evoking Him: Baldwin, and at SUNY Purchase directing Exit Strategy and A Beautiful Day in November on the Banks of the Greatest of the Great Lakes. He has been acknowledged as an exceptional leader through Crain’s New York Business 2020 Notable LGBTQ Leaders and Executives. In 2013, he was awarded the Emerging Producer Award by the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston Salem, North Carolina, and the Torch Bearer Award by theatrical legend Woodie King Jr. He is a founding member of the collaborative producing organizations Harlem9, Black Theatre Commons, The Jubilee, Next Generation National Arts Network, and The Movement Theatre Company. McCrory sits on the National Advisory Council for HowlRound Theatre Commons and was a member of the original cohort for ArtEquity. A Washington, D.C., native, McCrory attended the Duke Ellington School of the Arts and New York University’s TISCH School of the Arts. To learn more, please visit

    Photo Credit: Christine Jean Chambers